A Black woman on the London Underground was racially attacked, resulting in clumps of hair being ripped from her scalp and bite marks, during a recent trip on the British subway system.
She also said that despite an off-duty police officer sitting nearby, the incident was not stopped before she was injured.
Selma Taha, director of Southall Black Sisters, reported an incident on Sept. 29 around 11:30 p.m. BST. She and two friends, one of whom was also attacked, were on a Northern line train from Camden Town to King’s Cross.
The British Transport Police identified the 30-year-old female suspect and locked her up for the attack. She was arrested on suspicion of assault and a racially aggravated public order offense. The woman is no longer in custody after being released on bail.
Taha claims a woman pushed a suitcase toward them, and when they asked her to remove it, she launched a racist tirade, including calling them “slaves” and making derogatory comments like “It’s not my fault you’re lesser than me” and expressing how she didn’t have a “like for Black women.”
The aggressor then went on to make monkey sounds to invoke an age-old race-based mockery.
She did not stop there. The woman then physically attacked Taha.
“The woman then started taking out clumps of her real hair; it was everywhere,” the director said. “Then she went for my hair. She bit me through my clothes. I could feel burning and was screaming, ‘She’s biting me.’ ”
Taha said she thought the woman had “come away with flesh in her mouth.”
Passengers spoke up but didn’t intervene, including an off-duty detective constable who identified himself later. Taha thinks earlier intervention by the officer could have prevented the escalation.
“I was livid, I was furious at him. I was screaming at him and swearing, saying: ‘You let this happen… it’s because of you I was attacked!’” she recalled.
Taha stated that the officer acted like he didn’t see the incident get physical and that he only heard the argument. Taha believes this validated the alleged attacker’s actions.
“I felt he validated her behavior and made her emboldened. And it validated my experience of feeling worthless,” the Black woman stated to the BBC.
The police report shows a different account of the officer’s behavior, saying he broke them up before the stop.
“An off-duty officer from the Metropolitan Police intervened and separated the group before escorting passengers off at the next stop, King’s Cross, and calling BTP for assistance,” the police said about the late-night incident.
Taha reported the assault to higher authorities, including the Victim’s Commissioner in London and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, and went to the doctor to receive a tetanus shot and antibiotics after the attack.
She also filed a complaint against the officer with the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards when she didn’t receive an update on her case.
Law enforcement claimed to provide “appropriate support,” while the MET says it is supporting the accused officer in the case of not protecting the three women.
“The officer involved is being provided with welfare support during this process,” the MET said, adding her complaint had been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct.
“We will be assessing the referral in due course to determine whether any further action is required from us,” IOPC said, according to the Telegraph.
London’s Victim’s Commissioner Claire Waxman communicated with Taha and the Southall Black Sisters organization, arranging meeting for the upcoming week.